After going to Bell Hill School for five years, I finally got to go the Hennessey School for my fifth grade year. Fifth grade was a really fun year for me. My whole class was full of really cool kids, and we had one of the greatest teachers ever, Mrs. Merchant! The boys played a lot of four square, and I remember the girls playing Tetherball. I remember watching two girls from my class play Tetherball, Margie Rogers and Kathy Hinrichs. Those two would beat every girl they played. One day I was standing there watching them play, and in my head I had this game of Tetherball all figured out. I was also a boy, and being a boy I knew I wouldn’t have any problem beating them at this game of Tetherball. So being the cocky boy that I was, I challenged both of them to a game! I played Margie first. I gave her a good fight in the beginning, but after about 20 seconds she got the ball to go high over my head. Now Margie had the ball out of my reach, and within seconds she had the ball wound up tight against the poll.
I had just lost my first game of Tetherball. I was embarrassed, but that was OK because I knew I would beat Kathy. The next game with Kathy lasted 5 or 6 seconds. Kathy’s first hit got the ball going high over me and she kept it out of my reach the whole time. In a blink of an eye, I had just lost my second game! Now let’s go to the end of my eight grade year. The eight graders were having a Chess Tournament in Mr. Kartozian’s class. I remember we drew names to see who we played in the first round, and Kathy was the person I was playing in the first round. Again the guy thing kicked in and I thought I would beat her without any problem. All I was thinking was “Revenge” was going to be nice! I remember feeling pretty good about my first eight moves, then Kathy took her ninth move and said Checkmate! Then she stood up, smiled at me, and went over to Mr. Kartozian! So did I learn my lesson? “Nah” I can’t wait to sit down and play cards with them, I will beat them both!
May 12, 1974, was a beautiful day in Nevada County. My brother Stan and wife Janet picked Ralph and I up and we headed up to Reno to see the Grateful Dead. During the ride, all we talked about was the Dead. We were so excited; this was our first Dead concert! We arrived at the University of Nevada and entered into the Football Stadium. Frist thing we saw were towers of speakers, and the roadies were still in the process of setting everything up. This was one of the first times they were using this new sound system, and had taken a lot longer than they thought to get everything ready. To kill some time we walked to the entrance where there was a large water fountain. Phil Lesh was up on stage testing his Bass out, but you couldn’t hear anything. I looked over at the fountain and each time he hit a note on his Bass, the water had surface waves that vibrated toward the edges in response to the low Bass note. The band walked out 90 minutes late, and Bob Weir said, “What; we are right on time, Grateful Dead Standard Time!”
They played two songs, and then Weir said we are going to take a short break, pointing to the sound system, saying one of those speakers is not working! Twenty minutes later they came out and played their first set! The sound was great from where we were standing, but the Piano was a little loud. I worked my way up front by Jerry, and I yelled “Garcia” and he looked up and flipped me the bird. I took a picture, but that was one of the pictures that didn’t turn out. Then Joe Taparo and I tried to sneak behind the PA system and get a picture of how they wired everything. Just as I was going to take this picture, security was right in front of us escorting us back to the field. We went back to our group of friends and I remember enjoying hot versions of “US Blues” “Me and Bobby McGee” and “Deal”. I just remember standing there really digging my favorite band playing through this giant Sound System that was very clear, but the volume wasn’t real loud. The band ended the set with Garcia’s “Deal”, and said they would be back in a few!
Second Set started with Chuck Berry’s “Around and Around”. This song really got the crowd going. Next song they slowed it down a bit with “Mississippi Half Step” then the crowd went nuts when they started to play “Truckin’”! Since the concert got started late, it was getting to be late in the afternoon. By the end of “Truckin’” the wind started blowing and was blowing right in the face of the band. They played four more songs and then went into Sugar Magnolia. Wow! What a rockin’ version of Sugar, and then the band walked off the stage. The crowd was really into it and wanted more, but the wind was blowing really hard and the band never came back out. We walked out of the Stadium talking about how much fun we had and how good the band sounded. We said bye to everyone, and got in the car and headed for home. We were still talking about how much fun this concert was as we drove up to my parents’ house. As Ralph and I were getting out of the car, Stan looked at us and said those famous words. “There is nothing like a Grateful Dead Concert”!!!
Several of my good friends formed a band called “Workin’ Loose.” My buddy Steve Sanders was the drummer, and he wanted me to come hear them practice. I had never seen them play, so I was excited about sitting through one of their rehearsals. I walked in to the practice room and all the members were there except Steve. They said he was going to be late, so they asked me to sit in on the drums till he got there. Now these guys played at a much lower volume then “Steamer” did. We played four songs and it sounded pretty good especially since the drummer didn’t know the songs. I was still trying to get used to playing at a softer volume. I keep talking about playing at a lower volume for a reason. You hit the drums more softly when you play at a lower volume. Now we were in the middle of the next song, and I was having a great time playing with my friends. Then something happened! I couldn’t raise my snare drum stick up! I had poked a hole in the snare drum head! My stick was stuck in the hole!
First thing I thought was; Steve is going to kill me! I believe there is an unwritten rule, you don’t go around and break other musicians’ instruments! I was thinking to myself, what am I going to do? Now the band members weren’t much help at all! They were all laughing at me! I told them that I had to go! One of them even called me chicken!!! I don’t remember Steve ever saying anything to me about it. 30 years later I organized a get together party with some of my old friends. I invited Steve, but I didn’t think he was going to come, because he was living in Utah. When I got to the party, Steve was the first person to meet me at my car! I was surprised he came all the way from Utah for the party! So during the party I got my nerve up and I brought up the story of me breaking his snare drum head. He looked at me with a puzzled look on his face and said. I don’t remember that happening! What I was kind of hoping for was “Yeah You Big Jerk” but all I got was a big smile!
I went to my Senior All Night Party with my date Alisa Head, and friends Kevin Ivey and Patrice Hamilton. Walking in I was thinking this band sounds really good! I walked up front to see what kind of equipment they were using. While I was up there, I was getting some strange looks from the band members. We then went to the center of the floor and started dancing! The band sounded great, the music was very tight, and the vocals sounded right on the money. The band finished a song, and the guitar player motioned for me to come up to the front. We went up front, and they ask me if I was the drummer for Steamer? I said yes, and they told me they had seen Steamer play several times and they really liked us. I ask them what songs they were going to play throughout the night. They told me some of the songs, and then they told me they were saving their best for last. They wouldn’t tell me the name of the last song, and told us to stick around till the end, that we wouldn’t be disappointed.
We decided to stay all night because the four of us wanted to hear their best song. I was having a great time dancing with a beautiful girl, and we were both really digging the music. We started getting pretty tired, and you could tell the band was getting tired. The keyboard player could hardly keep his eyes open. But we were going to stay and hear this hot last song! About 5:45 AM the band announced, this is going to be our last song! All of us were standing there waiting for this smokin’ song to start. Then the guitar player started the song off with some power cords. I looked at Alisa and I said, they got to be kidding us, this is their best song? Now I like Deep Purple, but I have always felt “Smoke on the Water” is an awful song. I looked at Kevin and said we are out of here. I waved at the band, and the four of us left. As we were walking to the car, Kevin, Patrice and Alisa were laughing at me, because all three of them like that song! Don’t know why, but I still really dislike that song???
This is a review that a friend of mine wrote about the Live CD.
“Sons Of Champlin Live” was recorded on January 24, 1998, at The Luther Burbank Center For The Arts in Santa Rosa, California… which is the same venue that I was privileged to see, hear, and experience my first Sons of Champlin concert on New Year’s Eve later that year. As a fairly new Sons of Champlin fan, having been introduced to their music in 1995 by a friend, I was blown away. What a treat!
“Sons Of Champlin Live” is one of the best live recordings I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing. It’s the next best thing to being there. Bill Champlin’s vocals prove that he is one of the greatest blue-eyed soul singers ever, and his Hammond B3 organ is amazing, as is his guitar. Terry Haggerty’s blistering guitar solos and intricate rhythm work is absolutely incredible. Tom Saviano and Mic Gillette are one of the tightest, funkiest horn duos ever. Geoff Palmer is without a doubt a master on vibes, as well as a monster on keyboards. And the groove is anchored by the very talented rhythm section of James Preston and David Schallock. These guys are exceptional musicians and they really know how to cook.
I’d have a hard time picking a single favorite song on this CD. Every one is great, from the opening cut, “Fat City”, to the final song, “Hold On”. “Time Will Bring You Love” is the only ballad, and it’s one of my favorites, as well as “Follow Your Heart”, which I fell in love with the first time I heard it. Of course, “1982-A”, “Rooftop”, and “No Mo'” are favorites too.
I’ve purchased at least half a dozen copies of this CD and have given all but one of them to friends, young and old, who have become Sons of Champlin fans too. I’ve never become tired of listening to this wonderful CD.
Do yourself a favor and buy a copy for yourself. You’ll be glad you did.